The Art of The Ambush

Dear Brendan,

In my last note we discussed the importance of your daily routine, route recon, SA, surveillance detection, getting off the X, and other Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) to avoid being a victim of an ambush-style attack while in your vehicle.  I’m going to pick up quickly from this point and roll right into the art of the ambush and ambush recognition.

Let’s continue to build on this and focus on your daily routine and driving routes from home to work and attacks while you are in your vehicle.  Our daily commute can be a grind and we must be careful not to become complacent during this time.  I’m going to focus more on your vehicle and daily commute and not so much about a sucker punch on the street by the criminal element.  The latter we will continue to address via modern combative concepts.  Please reach out to me directly for more individual training and mentoring.

You must hone your skills and SA to identify the signs of an ambush attack.  This is another animal when we talk about self-defense focusing more on a physical violent attack on the street and the recognition signs and responses you should be picking up on and be prepared to act.  Again I’ll say to think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.  Have flexible response options (FROs) in place.  Prepare yourself and your family physically, mentally and emotionally for this fight and be committed to not only surviving, but also winning this fight. 

So what is an ambush?  I’ll give you an infantry 101 definition of an ambush.  It is a surprise attack from a covered or concealed position.  Military forces use it and criminals worldwide use it to target moving or halted enemies or victims to destroy, capture, rob, assault, rape, or kill. 

The art of the ambush has been around since the beginning of warfare and is still used today on the modern battlefield.  So long as there is war or crimes there will be ambush style attacks. 

Identifying the attack is key to preventing or surviving an ambush.  The ability to recognize an ambush attack allows you time to use your flexible response options, TTPs to avoid an ambush attack or assault on you or your family.  The attackers or criminals have several advantages.  They pick the who (target/you), the when, the where, and the how.  This is why your planning, route recon, SA and everything else we have talked about up to this point plays a role.  You can make yourself and your family a hard target and take away the attackers’ advantages or limit them to an extent. 

This is why you need to conduct solid route reconnaissance and note all likely ambush sites and have flexible response options in place for when you are attacked.  This also gives you a good idea of when, where, and how attacks and ambushes could happen.  In turn you are at a heightened level of awareness at these specific points during your daily routine and commute routes. 

Here are some positive take aways.  Within each possible attack or ambush site, the attackers will have certain disadvantages.  Many of these are identifiable before the attack.

Before the assault someone will likely observe you approaching and give some type of signal to initiate the ambush.  It’s common for this to be done from a fixed location near the kill zone, the X.  Much like a listening post or observation post (LP/OP) in the military. 

There will be a form of communication used by the attackers.  It could be basic hand and arm signals to more hi-tech comms via cell phones, radios, etc.  You may very well be able to detect this communication between those with eyes on you and those on the attack team.  These people may appear at first to be unrelated but if you are under surveillance or being targeted for an ambush they will need a way to communicate.

I know you are probably thinking, “How the heck am I supposed to tell the difference between some average Joe talking to his family or co-worker on the phone, and that of a threat element targeting me and my family?”  And you are right. It’s not always going to be like a neon sign blinking in your face.  It can be difficult to tell friend from foe.  The age of smartphones, texting, blue-tooth and other forms of comms make it a challenge to tell who is who in the zoo at times. 

So think of it like this:  I’m sure you see people talking to themselves all the time while driving in their cars or walking down the street.  That is our society today with smartphones and blue-tooth capabilities.  However people are still people. We all have habits. We do things that are almost like pre-programmed behaviors we can’t always control or even realize we’re doing.

Here’s how you and I can turn that to our advantage: People that are involved in a dangerous, illegal or stressful situation tend to show signs of this in different ways.  This goes back to your SA skills and knowing your environment.  If you’ve served in the military or law enforcement you have likely seen how your teammates changed their body language, posture, attitude, demeanor (choose your favorite word, Brendan) right before an operation, a raid, a bust, orserving a high risk warrant.  Trust me, they shifted.

You may be able to find some Youtube videos that show these kinds of behaviors. Either way, you’re ahead of the game now because at least you know about these indicators.

An ambush is likely to be initiated by a ruse or diversion of some kind.  It’s part of Close Quarters Combat 101.  (Speed, Surprise, Diversion, Superior Fire Power and Violence of Action)  Pay careful attention to large trucks and buses.  It’s common for attackers to block roads, use fake checkpoints or fake road construction sites to trap you on the X. 

Here’s an easy example-- if a truck or bus pulls out in front of you or cuts you off and continues on it’s way and people and other vehicles continue on their way it’s nothing to be alarmed about.  However if this vehicle suddenly stops and people around you direct their actions towards you, you’re on the X. It’s time to move-move-move. Get off that X. You might be thinking, “Well, sure, Travis, but any idiot can tell once it’s all happening.” Here’s the thing—you can use seconds and minutes to your advantage. The key is to see it coming.

For the ambush to be executed there has to be a form of transition from disguise to immediate action on the target-- you. 

The attackers will have to break away from their cover or concealment positions.  If this happens on your daily commute or on an ambush site you have noted on your route reconnaissance you should be ready. You’ve done your planning, you have noted the attack and ambush sites so now you have an edge. You are well positioned because of your pre-planning to deploy your Flexible Response Options (remember? FRO’s…) to escape, to evade, to get off that X.

This is why you have to be focused and have good SA when you are getting close to noted ambush sites.  If, when,you identify pre-attack signs, slow down or change direction.  The odds are if it’s nothing to be concerned with it will quickly come into focus and you can proceed with caution.  If red flags are still present hopefully you are not in the kill zone, not on the X. However, if you are, remember to use time and distance to disrupt and deter your attackers.  This is also why you should brush up on your crash and bang driving skills, which is something we’ll discuss in a later letter. 

As discussed, some ambush sites will have terrain that hinders your ability to identify an impending attack.  Terrain like hills, blind corners, and various other obstacles and don’t forget  weather.  You simply do your best to minimize these variables and try to account for them.  We are focusing on individual TTPs that you will use on your own or with your family.  You will not have an advance team clearing a route for you as if you are part of a security team or military convoy.  Knowing this means you could very well drive right into a possible ambush site.  And we didn’t even go into ambushes that include  Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs.  We can discuss this off line at a later date (and that goes foryou or for anyone who is interested).  Just remember-- time and distance are your friends.

We are fortunate here in the USA that it’s very unlikely that someone will target you with an IED-style attack or initiate an ambush with Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) fire from a bridge or street corner.  This all goes back to route recon, assessments and knowing your area of operation, you immediate environment.  When you do your planning, plan for likely threat courses of action.     

I hope this drives home the point how important it is to be able to identify an attack or an ambush before you are standing on the X.  Be proactive.  Be sure to incorporate what we have talked about in this letter into your everyday personal security posture.  We will continue to build on this and addtools and tactics to your toolbox as you learn.

Be Aware & Be Safe,

-Travis